Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 22 Feb 2011

Earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand

Our popular news catch-up service is posted Monday to Friday at 8.00 am. You can rely on it to keep you up to date through the working day with the main news talking points. NEW ZEALAND EARTHQUAKE: AT LEAST 65 DEAD A 6.3 magnitude earthquake has hit Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island, causing buildings to collapse in the city centre. The spire of Christchurch Cathedral toppled into the square below. At least 65 people are reported dead but many others are trapped in the rubble and the death toll is certain to mount. Mayor Bob Parker said: "Make no mistake - this is going to be a very black day for this shaken city." GADDAFI CONDEMNS LIBYA PROTESTSMuammar Gaddafi has denounced the anti-government protests that have swept Libya. Appearing on state television, he described opponents of his regime as "cowards and traitors" who were "serving the devil" and warned that enemies of the country would be executed. Gaddafi has already been accused of genocide after reports that the military had killed at least 500 civilians. Meanwhile several nations have sent aircraft and ships to evacuate nationals and more senior diplomats have abandoned Gaddafi's regime. Britain and Libya: a very embarrassing friendship Libya protests - pictures SHRIEN DEWANI 'IN HOSPITAL AFTER OVERDOSE'Shrien Dewani, the Bristol businessman fighting South Africa's attempt to extradite him on suspicion of ordering the murder of his wife Anni, is in hospital following a failed suicide bid, according to reports. Dewani, 31, is said to have been admitted to Bristol Royal Infirmary on Sunday after taking an overdose of pills. He continues to deny claims that he paid for his wife to be killed during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November. Dewani in hospital after drug overdose LONDON 2012 VELODROME OPENS AMID CHEERSThe first major arena specially built for the 2012 Olympics will be opened today in east London - the 6,000-seat velodrome. Champion cyclist Chris Hoy blieves it will be the best in the world. Architecture critic Hugh Pearlman has said the building, designed by Mike Taylor of Hopkins Architects, deserves a gold medal. "This is one hell of a good building... what on earth went right?" GEITHNER BACKS OSBORNE'S CUTS STRATGEYChancellor George Osborne's controversial spending cuts have got the seal of approval from US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He told the BBC he is "very impressed, as just one man looking from a distance, at the basic strategy that he's adopted". Britain's deficit position is worse than America's and the Chancellor has "locked his government and the coalition into a set or reforms that are very good". SUDANESE PRESIDENT TO STAND DOWNPresident Omar al-Bashir, who has ruled Sudan for 22 years and stands accused of ordering genocide in the Darfur region, will not run for re-election in 2015. But an official of his National Congress Party claims the decision has nothing to do with the people power spreading across north Africa. "He is not under pressure. This is not in the context of the change that is happening in the Arab world." ELISABETH MURDOCH TO JOIN NEWS CORP BOARD Rupert Murdoch's 42-year-old daughter Elisabeth is to join the board of News Corp, putting her on an equal footing with her brother James. The elevation, due at Easter, follows Murdoch's decision last week to purchase Elisabeth's London-based TV production company Shine for £415m. She will continue to run Shine, makers of MasterChef for the BBC and The Wright Stuff for C5. JACQUI SMITH: 'I KNEW MY HUSBAND WATCHED PORN'Former Labour Cabinet minister Jacqui Smith has told the Radio Times that she knew her husband, Richard Timney, had a habit of watching porn films even before his purchase of porn appeared on her Commons expenses and led to her downfall. Smith has now made a BBC documentary about the porn industry, which involved the former Home Secretary interviewing sex workers. SOMALIAN PIRATES KILL AMERICAN HOSTAGESSomalian pirates have killed four American hostages on board a hijacked yacht off the coast of Oman. The US military said its forces had been trailing the vessel, the S/V Quest, and responded to the sound of gunfire on board on Tuesday morning. They boarded the boat and discovered the four hostages had been shot. Two pirates were killed and 13 more captured during the US operation. NEW ENID BLYON NOVEL DISCOVEREDAn unknown Enid Blyton novel has been discovered in an archive of the late author's manuscripts that was brought at auction last year. The 180-page novel is called Mr Tumpy's Caravan and appears to be a reworking of a comic strip book serialised in the London Evening Standard in the 1940s. Blyton, who wrote the Noddy and Famous Five died in 1968. An estimated 500 million copies of her books have been sold worldwide.

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